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Improved sewage facilities for Portmore in $2.3-billion project

Sunday, December 15, 2013    

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More than 200,000 residents across the Portmore municipality are expected to benefit from improved sewage facilities, as work gets underway on the approximately $2.3 billion Portmore Sewage Project.

The works, to be undertaken by contractors, Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company Limited, over a 45-month period, involves the decommissioning of the five existing wastewater treatment plants, which are in an advanced state of disrepair.

The plants at Independence City, Bridgeport, Hamilton Gardens, Portmore Villas, and Caymanas Gardens, which receive a combined flow of just over 18,200 cubic metres per day, will be converted into transfer pumping stations for the delivery of effluent to the Soapberry Wastewater Treatment Plant in St Catherine, which has the capacity to treat some 75,000 cubic metres of sewage per day.

Speaking at the contract signing last Thursday, at the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, in New Kingston, portfolio minister, Robert Pickersgill, said that the project is being funded from proceeds under the National Water Commission's (NWC) K-Factor programme.

He informed that the design and construction of aspects of the project should take approximately 24 months, while the duration for the completion of the engineering designs is three to four months, after which, material costs and construction should take between 18 and 20 months.

The minister pointed out that following this period, the contractor will be required to operate and maintain the reconfigured system for a further 24 months.

Pickersgill said that upon completion, the project will yield returns through savings generated by consolidating sewage treatment operations from the existing five plants to Soapberry.

"The cost savings will include a reduction in the energy cost of operating the old inefficient equipment as well as reduction in maintenance costs. We're the biggest customer of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), so anywhere we can reduce energy, the cost is of the utmost importance," he noted.

Pickersgill emphasised that given the importance of the project, "we want to ensure that it is completed on time and well within the budgetary and quality requirements".

Acting president of the NWC, Mark Barnett, said that the Portmore sewage investment is one of several slated to be implemented with funds from the K-Factor charges on customers' bills.

He stated that the project is important, as the NWC recognises "that the proper collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater that is generated in highly populated communities are essential to safeguarding the health, environment and economy of the country."

Acting deputy mayor of Portmore, Alrick Campbell, expressed gratitude to the Government for the vision to undertake such an important project.

"We thank you for considering the plight of the people of Portmore and anticipate that the works will be done in good time and that the people will benefit from the development," he said.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Member of Parliament for St Catherine East Central, Arnaldo Brown, said that the Soapberry project will go to the heart of solving the current issues related to the disposal and treatment of sewage in the municipality.

"This particular solution will be comprehensive and will certainly enhance the quality of life for the people of Portmore," he said.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and Member of Parliament for St Catherine South Eastern, Colin Fagan, in welcoming the project, pointed out that the project is expected to address a number of environmental and health problems being faced by Portmore residents, including poor air quality and mosquito infestation.

For his part, Member of Parliament for St Catherine South, Fitz Jackson remarked that the project will not only impact residents of Portmore, but will also redound to the benefit of the country as a whole.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company Ltd, Leslie Chang said that he has put together a competent and experienced team of local professionals to design, construct and maintain the facility.

They are Noel Whyte and Associates, Omni Engineering, Hopeton Jones and Associates, and NHL Laboratories.

"We commit to the delivery of a first class facility that will meet the expectations of the NWC and the residents of Portmore," he pledged.

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